flag Mali Mali: Trade Profile

Foreign Trade in Figures

Mali has an open economy in which trade accounts for around 65% of the country’s GDP (World Bank, 2020). Customs duties are relatively low (the average applied tariff rate is 10%), and there are very few legal or regulatory trade barriers. Mali mainly exports gold (72.9% of total exports in 2019, Comtrade), cotton (11.6%), live animals, and fertilisers; importing chiefly petroleum oils (27% of total imports), cement (4%), medicaments, and electrical apparatus.

The country is a member of WTO, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), whose objective is to reduce trade barriers through the creation of a common market. One of Mali’s primary objectives was to reach self-sufficiency regarding cereal production and to become the leading grain supplier for countries in West Africa. However, although it has achieved satisfactory results, Mali is yet to become a net exporter of cereals. Cotton production, on the other hand, has been on the rise over the last agricultural season, allowing Mali to become the largest supplier of cotton in Africa. The adoption of economic sanctions by ECOWAS and UEMOA early 2022, including a trade and financial embargo and border closures, could negatively impact trade. The bulk of Mali’s exports go to South Africa (36.5% of total exports), followed by Switzerland (35.6%), Bangladesh (7.1%), Ivory Coast (4.2%) and Burkina Faso (2.8%). Senegal (which accounts for 22.5% of Mali’s total imports) is the biggest supplier, followed by China (15.8%), Ivory Coast (10.6%) and France (7.9%) (Comtrade, latest data available).

Mali’s trade balance is structurally in deficit and is largely dependent on commodity prices. According to figures by WTO, in 2020 the country’s exports of merchandise increased to USD 3.92 billion (from USD 3.68 billion in 2019), while imports of merchandise decreased to USD 4.88 billion (from USD 5.13 billion). Mali is also a net service importer: the value of commercial services imports stood at USD 1.61 billion, against USD 542 million in exports. According to Malian government, in spite of expected higher cotton production in 2022, lower gold prices will contribute to the deterioration of the trade balance. The import bill will remain large, due to the recovery of domestic demand and high energy prices (Coface).

Foreign Trade Indicators 20162017201820192020
Imports of Goods (million USD) 3,5094,2864,7225,1344,877
Exports of Goods (million USD) 2,5382,8963,5843,6753,923
Imports of Services (million USD) 2,4191,3231,3941,5321,605
Exports of Services (million USD) 435441486672542
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 11-14-126-3
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -211-020
Trade Balance (million USD) -577-704-383n/an/a
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 6458606160
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 4036363633
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 2322252526

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank - Latest available data.

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To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows


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List of tariffs and local taxes that apply to your product on our service Customs duties


Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
International Economic Cooperation
Member of West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU)

Member of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

Useful Resources
Customs service (in French)
National Organisation of Intellectual Property
Find on this page the contact of the Malian Center for Industrial Property (CEMAPI)

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Latest Update: May 2022

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